Netball’s Northern Ireland under 17 squad took on the under 19 national side on Sunday in preparation for the upcoming European championships. Following an impressive warm up, the girls took the court in front of an audience of Netball Northern Ireland officials, family and players. Ahead of the European championships weekend in June both squads have been undergoing intense training and Sunday was a chance to show off their skills and play against tough competition.
The squad will play in front of a home crowd later this month in Lisburn Racquet’s club. However, the under 19s will also be heading to Loughborough the same weekend for the first under 19 championships in four years.
After speaking to head Coach Laura Montgomery, it looks as though they’re going for gold. When asked about her squad Laura had nothing but positive things to say: “I feel very lucky to have such a superb squad with great depth. It will be extremely tough coming off the first under 19 championships in four years but we are well prepared.”
The squad’s goal shooter Caroline Davis made an impressive comeback on Sunday after a major injury. After her performance it looks as though she’s well and truly back in the game. Co-captains Sarah Montgomery and Sophie McLean are also an attribute to the squad after being talent identified to compete in the under 21 world youth tournament in February.
They seem to have the experience required to lead the squad out strong and Laura said; “with them both having such great experience we just couldn’t have split them up.” Hence the decision to appoint the girls as co-captains. Laura also said: “Vice-captain Sinead Redmond is also very competent and the camaraderie together with the squad’s experience and high skill level makes for a great combination to put them in the running towards winning that highly sought-after gold medal.”
With England holding their stake as the toughest competition in the tournament it looks as though the girls are in for a challenging yet exciting weekend. Following such encouraging words from the head coach, let’s hope they can return to Northern Ireland with a gold medal and great memories. Good luck ladies.